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Homekit.

It’s a new era in our merry little household. For the first time in a number of years, one can confidently utter the word “Alexa” or “Google” without various devices scattered about binging and bonging while trying to be helpful.

The Amazon and Google ears have been decommissioned.

My husband and I have been working on little tech upgrades here and there and over the weekend he remarked, “it’d be really nice if we had one kind of computer with one service for the lights. I don’t want to talk to Google in here and Alexa in there and watch you haul around a Linux computer”.

We’ve decided to go all in on Homekit, Apple’s Home Automation platform. I know that some have had uneven experiences with Homekit but it has always been solid with us. The only reason we added Alexa and Google to the mix was so we could talk to thin air and have something happen.

“Hey Siri!” gives us this option as long as we have a iPhone or iPad within our shouting range. Since we always have our device on us, this is working for us.

When we first moved into the condo here in Chicago it was my intention for us to be an all Homekit home but then we started buying cheaper smart plugs that were only compatible with Alexa. I’ve been doing some network monitoring and the smart plugs are quite chatty with non-U.S. IP addresses. I don’t know why my smart plug feels the need to tattle around the world when I turn on a box fan, but it made me hyper aware of the security concerns around the Internet of Things.

I firmly believe Apple has the most secure offering in this arena.

Jamie had a decommissioned iPad Mini 2 that we have pressed into service as a Home Controller in the kitchen. I just need to find an older iOS device to play the same role in the bathroom, as we like music to play when we shower and the like, and then we’ll be golden. In the meanwhile we can use our phones.

I’m liking the doubling down on the Apple ecosystem. Believe it or not, it helps my focus for both personal and professional tasks. And for us, it just works.

And that’s all that matters to us.

Topsy Turvy.

So apparently the WordPress app on iOS no longer recognizes camera orientation when posting a photo.

I think it’s time for me to start finding a new platform to power this blog. WordPress feels like it’s not keeping up with the times.

Repair.

The power button on my iPad Pro has become mushy. Whatever makes it click has given up the ghost. So today I have an appointment at the Genius Bar at our local Apple Store.

Connecting.

Social Media is suppose to be the epitome of human connection but it’s not. Mark and Sheryl and Jack and Biz would all like you to believe that we can connect to each other easier and without a care in the world today versus even a few years ago, but the anonymity of it all just lends itself to screaming, carrying on, assorted hissy fits, and just all around crankiness.

I was flipping through old photos this evening and found the screen cap as shown at the top of this blog entry. Back in the days of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, iChatAV and the like, you’d chat away in group chat boards and then if you wanted to see someone face to face (sometimes for racy reasons, sometimes not), you’d fire up your connected webcam and say hello. Group chat was kind of rare but one-to-one chat was medium-well and it generally felt like you could make friends hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Social Media has kind of ruined the human connection element of technology and that’s sad to me. We could have done great things with a focus on quality interaction one-to-one or few-to-few instead of moving into this “make a duck face in front of a gravestone and post it on the inter webs” thing we have going on today.

Perhaps the network cord will swing back in a saner direction.

Commitment to Privacy.

A recent Macworld article highlights Apple’s commitment to user privacy in this digital day and age. An interesting read for all, but especially for the geek minded. The article also highlights the importance of “Sign In with Apple”, the new sign-in initiative from Apple I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

But convenience is only part of what makes Sign In with Apple such an excellent feature. Apple has baked privacy and security so deep into Sign In with Apple that it won’t work unless your account is protected with two-factor authentication. It uses Face ID or Touch ID on the iPhone and iPad. The coolest feature of all: you can opt to use a fake email address that forwards to your real one so the service you’re signing into won’t have access to your contact info.

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Sign In With Apple.

Image courtesy of CNET

So Apple’s Developers Conference, called “WWDC”, which stands for “Worldwide Developers Conference” is underway in San Jose, California. The event is kicked off with their annual WWDC Keynote, which outlines the plans Apple has for their Operating Systems for the foreseeable future. This year Apple announced updates to all of their operating systems, including bringing iPad its own operating system called iPadOS. This will help separate the iPad from the iPhone experience a little bit.

In recent years Apple has doubled down and gone the extra step with their privacy efforts. Their built-in web browser, Safari, has plenty of privacy options. When shared with an application, location information is anonymized by default. Photo processing is done locally on the device and iCloud data is encrypted by default, without scanning for advertising opportunities.

One of the way ad-based Internet companies track you is by having you use your sign-in information with their service across third party apps. Most Internet users are familiar with message boards with “Sign in with Facebook” or third party apps like Dropbox with “Sign in with Google”. These services are convenient for the user; you don’t have to remember multiple passwords. However, it’s a tracking opportunity for the company providing the sign on service, plus it often forms a two-way information sharing opportunity for the sign on service and the third party application. Things like your name, nickname, email address, birthday, etc. could be shared across this connection. Plus, how many times have you received an email with advertising after using these credentials for a service that is at best vaguely related to the third party offering?

“Sign in with Apple” is a new way of signing in on your Apple devices. Tied with FaceID or TouchID (or other authentication methods, depending on the device), Apple will authenticate your identity and that’s it. If the third party service requires an email address, Apple will generate a random email address that forwards to your address. And that random address is used only for that service. Sick of emails from them? Delete the random address. You don’t need to change your real email address.

This is awesome.

One of my biggest pet peeves of today’s Internet is the amount of tracking and advertising. “Sign in with Apple” will be a great way to help combat that issue.

It’s just another reason I call myself a “Crazy One”.

No Privacy.

Image from techcrunch.com

A recent article in The Daily Dot outlined Facebook’s true stance on privacy: there is no privacy on Facebook.

A lawyer for Facebook argued in court Wednesday that the social media site’s users “have no expectation of privacy.”

According to Law360, Facebook attorney Orin Snyder made the comment while defending the company against a class-action lawsuit over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” Snyder said

I look forward to the day when a disrupter can truly disrupt Facebook. Until then, proceed with caution.

Portrait.

I know folks like to talk about how Apple is falling behind the innovation curve. I’ve talked about this as well, after all, during the latest round of Google I/O they talked about a lot of things they’re doing to push technology forward, while at their last event Apple talked about TV shows, games, and credit cards.

I’m really hoping that Apple will surprise us in some small way during Monday’s WWDC Keynote. I look forward to see what they have in store for us.

One thing that I do find amazing about Apple’s efforts is the ease of use their baking into the camera app offerings on their iOS devices. I just snapped this photo using my iPad Pro as I’m writing this blog entry. Using the user-facing camera (I get mixed up with front facing and back facing), I just selected portrait mode, adjusted the angle of my iPad slightly and I was able to take this decent photo of me.

Earl is in the process of switching from his old iMac to a brand new 2019 MacBook Pro with touch bar. As we are going through the files on his old iMac we are coming across photos that we haven’t seen in nearly two decades. We are finding things he created back with his first “lampshade iMac” from the early 2000s when we lived in our first house. While they’re wonderful memories and they make us smile, looking at the quality and how we created those photos to where we are today shows us that Apple is indeed innovating, perhaps so where we really need to innovate.

The company that focuses on privacy and data security for all at an affordable price, and brings us what to celebrate life, work, and our human connection, is the company that is truly innovating, at least in my eyes.

As I said, I’m looking forward to what Apple brings to the world at WWDC starting on Monday. Let’s hope I’m not disappointed.

Searching.

From time to time I’ll wander around the Internet, fully indulging my geek mode and affinity for “legacy technology”, and search for hints and scraps of technology I remember from my past. These things are the latest and greatest of the era and ultimately inspired me to be the geeky, dorky software developer I am today.

This evening I stumbled upon some photos of a Data Terminal Systems Series 400 cash register. One of these days I’ll actually get my hands on one of these things.

This particular register looks like it was in a department store of some sort and has an extra row of keys along the top of the keyboard, as well as an extra row of keys along the left hand side.